Antiques and Collectables
Judith Miller

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  • Judith Miller
  • 12 Jul 2011

I fell for the sparkling, brightly colored vases of Scottish glassmakers Monart several years ago and have been collecting it ever since. My first piece – a gorgeous 1920s vase that now has pride of place in my hall – was purchased at a time when it was considered dreadfully Kitsch and could be picked up for very little. Now, as with other 20th century glass, it is extremely desirable and prices have risen substantially.

Monart glass was made between 1924 and 1961 at the Moncrieff Glassworks in Perth. The factory had initially concentrated solely on the production of industrial items until Isabel Moncrieff, the wife of the factory’s owner, encouraged Salvador Ysart – a Spanish glassblower who had previously proved himself at Schneider – to develop a range of Art glass. The trade name Monart was a composite of the names Moncrieff and Ysart.

Salvador and his sons designed over 300 shapes, inspired predominantly by Chinese ceramics, including vases, jars and lamps, between 1924 and 1933, Most pieces were free-blown and thus unique, a fact which contributes to their desirability today. Although simple in form, great appeal also came from their striking and rich decoration.

During the manufacture process, glass gathers – the lump of molten glass attached to the end of a blow-pipe – were rolled in brightly colored crushed Enamel and then coated in a layer of clear glass before being blown into shape. Different sized flecks of enamel produced a wide variety of mottled effects. Decoration was often concentrated towards the top of an object and extra visual interest, usually known as Paisley Shawl, was added by pulling and twisting the design on the surface of the molten glass. On occasions, specks of silver or copper were added and other techniques were developed, such as cloisonné, which involved plunging the hot glass into cold water to produce a decorative cracked surface.

Production of Monart ceased in 1939 and was resumed on a smaller scale after the war under Paul Ysart, the eldest son of Salvador. In the same period, his father and two brothers set up Vasart to produce glass which tends to be paler in color and less widely collected than Monart today. Collectors identify Monart by its distinctive ground Pontil mark. Paper labels are desirable and are usually marked with the Monart trademark in a circle. Substantial pieces sell for around £100 upwards, but the price can rise significantly for especially attractive examples in good condition.